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Crews work to contain fires

120 spend night in Oquirrhs to keep eye on hot spots

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Firefighters worked on containing fires throughout the state Friday night, with 120 of them spending the night in the Oquirrh Mountains east of Tooele to keep an eye on hot spots.

"One thing they're concerned about is the heavy fuel from the canyon bottom," said Donna Wilson, spokeswoman for Salt Lake Interagency Fire Center.

The 3,000-acre fire was about 45 percent contained Friday evening, with total containment expected by 8 p.m. today, Wilson said.

The fire in Red Butte Canyon was declared both contained and controlled Friday night, though smoke may be seen coming from the canyon for a few days, said Kathy Jo Pollock, fire information officer for the Salt Lake Interagency Fire Center.

The smoke is the result of some "green islands," or areas of vegetation the fire crews had attempted to leave untouched, that had caught fire, Pollock said. The burning areas, which were smoldering and in the middle of the 253 acres that started burning Tuesday, were being attended to Friday afternoon by a 20-person crew and a helicopter.

The fires pose no threat to the public, though a firefighter with the Bureau of Indian Affairs was injured Friday around 8:20 p.m., Pollock said. Search and rescue crews were trying to transport him from the steep, wet mountainside late Friday.

Though firefighters were attempting to put out the new fire areas Friday evening, it's likely work will continue through Sunday, Pollock said. It will be at least another week before the fires are totally extinguished, due to the thick vegetation, Pollock said.

Meanwhile, a helicopter that had been helping battle the 150-acre fire in the Rock Creek Mountains near Logan crashed just outside the Logan Airport Friday.

The leased helicopter from Grand Canyon Helicopters began experiencing problems and landed at Logan Airport for repairs, said Lt. Kim Cheshire of the Cache County Sheriff's Office. When maintenance was completed and the pilot, John Haverly, 40, of Flagstaff, Ariz., took the helicopter out for a test run, it crashed into a field four miles west of the airport.

Neither the passenger nor the pilot were seriously injured.

"The pilot did a good job of crash landing it," Cheshire said. "We're very happy about this because no one's hurt."

The Rock Creek fire is expected to be contained by Saturday.

In Salt Lake City, fire crews responded Friday afternoon to a fire in Memory Grove — about a quarter-mile below City Creek Canyon.

About one acre of grass and scrub oak burned, according to Salt Lake Fire Capt. Dennis Groudy. He said 16 firefighters fought aggressively to keep it from spreading up City Creek.

"It was quickly controlled," Groudy said.

Groudy said the fire had a "suspicious origin," and investigators are working to determine its cause.


E-mail: ehayes@desnews.com

Contributing: Laura Hancock and Dainon Moody.